SAO PAULO – The heat wave besetting most of Brazil with temperatures above 40 C (104 F) has killed 32 elderly people in just two days in the city of Santos, in the southwestern state of Sao Paulo, the municipal Health Secretariat said Wednesday.
The victims, who died on Monday and Tuesday, ranged in age from 65 to 90 and all of them suffered from chronic health problems such as diabetes, hypertension and heart difficulties.
Dehydration caused by the intense heat could have aggravated the victims’ preexisting problems as well, the secretariat said.
Of the 32 people, 17 died at their homes, while the other 15 expired in health centers where they had been admitted.
There were 220 telephone calls for help received by the emergency services during those two days, whereas the daily average is 130, Santos Health Secretary Santos Odilio Rodrigues Filho said.
Because of the high temperatures in recent weeks in several parts of the country during the middle of the austral summer, the Santos mayor’s office has begun an information campaign about the dangers of dehydration.
In Rio de Janeiro, thermometers have hit 42 C (108 F) several times in the first few days of February.
Last week, the Brazilian government reported that – due to the intense heat wave – the consumption of electricity around the country reached historic highs and that demand for it increased during the first month of the year by 12.1 percent compared to January 2009. EFE